Is There Life After Three Career Attempts and an Unfinished PhD?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Francis Guenette reflecting on her multi-act life.

Here’s Francis!

Thank you, Joanne, for inviting me to be part of the second act series. Writing this guest post has been a valuable exercise in self-reflection.

Francis Guenette - author photo (2)My first act was defined by the dream of higher education and my second act as answering the question – is there life after three career attempts and an unfinished PhD? I won’t keep anyone in suspense. The answer is a resounding yes! The life events that taught me the most – I never saw them coming. After all, no journey is planned completely in advance. The key to moving from one act to the next is the realization that the familiar path has been outgrown.

Flash back many years. I was married with a baby in my arms before the age of twenty. Act one was underway. I began my pursuit of letters after my name modestly enough, sitting at the kitchen table stealing moments from child-minding and house-tending to complete distance education courses. Another child graced our life. Eventually, I finished my undergrad degree and put it to use working with a non-profit group in an educational role. The kids grew. I became disillusioned with my first career choice. I added a year of additional study and embarked on career number two, working with special needs students in the school system.

Soon enough, it was time to move on, again. I was accepted into graduate school and completed a master’s degree in counselling psychology – my third career choice. Both my kids got married, I became a grandma. While I worked as a trauma counsellor, I tackled teaching at the university level and completing a PhD. Initially, I thrived on the excitement of life in the city, work, study, research and travel. A few years down the road, the pace began to wear me out. By the time I was informed that I had to complete my dissertation, I was all but tapped out.

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I came home to our isolated cabin by the lake with strict instructions to get finished. I rebelled. As those lazy, hazy days of summer unwound, I wrote a draft of a novel that became, Disappearing in Plain Sight. It was the first time I had ever written fiction. The characters and their stories took hold of me and they wouldn’t let go. It was the most exciting writing I had done in years. I felt alive, exhilarated. The burnt out feelings associated with the past couple of years vanished. I turned deaf ears to all who insisted I was flushing my PhD down the toilet, to say nothing of turning my back on yet another career choice. My second act had begun.

I never looked back. I embraced being at home again and spending time with my children and grandchildren. I began to work with an extremely talented editor. She provided encouragement through rewrite after rewrite. My son introduced me to the world of self-publishing. Everything fell into place. Disappearing in Plain Sight was published in March of 2013 and the sequel, The Light Never Lies, came out in February of 2014. I’m currently working on the first draft of the third book in the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

My advice to others embarking on the first tottering steps of the second act – don’t give up, don’t circle the wagons or retreat to the safety of what feels tried and true. Trust your instincts. There may not be support from those close to you. It’s hard enough for you to follow the map you’re making up as you go. Trying to explain your route to others might be a waste of time. What has come before will not be lost. Every hard fought lesson of the first act will serve you in good stead come the second.

In closing, I’ll quote a wonderful passage that has inspired me by the author of Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott.

But you can’t get any of these truths by sitting in a field and smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and stay in the moment. And that moment is home.

Books

Disappearing in Plain Sight - cover (2)Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

Amazon | Kobo | Nook | iTunes


The Light Never Lies - ebook cover - Francis L. Guenette (2)As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

Amazon | Kobo | Nook | iTunes | Smashwords

Website and Blog

Joanne here!

Francis, thank you for sharing your extraordinary journey and excellent advice. Best of luck with your literary endeavors.

When I Grow Up

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Robyn Roze asking and answering the important questions.

Here’s Robyn!

First, I want to thank Joanne for inviting me to include my second act story with hers and so many other interesting women. All of your stories are inspiring.

robynrozeI’m a wanderer by nature. Always have been. I’m not much for planning too far into the future, because I could change my mind, my direction. Having said that, it won’t come as a surprise that as a young girl, a young woman, and now a mature woman, closing ever so quickly in on the half-century mark, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Well, except that I’ve always known I wanted to be happy, healthy, considerate, open-minded, and compassionate. The very same things I hope my own children will be when they grow up. But that’s not what people mean when they ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Frankly, I never had an answer for that question. At least not one I felt completely comfortable with, or confident about. My interests varied, my focus shifted over time and there was never an overarching gut sense of what I should be. I must admit, I’m still a bit jealous of people who know at a young age exactly what they want to be when they grow up. And then go on to pursue and achieve the very thing they always knew they wanted to be. How wonderful it must be to have that kind of certainty in life. But not me. So, I plodded through college and earned a bachelor’s degree. Only to return some years later for another degree, hoping to garner marketable skills and a bigger paycheck; not because I’d had an epiphany about what I wanted to be.

Then when my son and daughter were old enough to begin thinking about their own futures, they asked me the burning question from my youth, the one I’d never felt comfortable answering. I understood in that moment what they were really asking: “How do you know what you want to be when you grow up?” And, “Are you doing it?” I was honest with them, as I have always been. So, my kids, not satisfied with my answer, changed the question and drilled down to the heart of the matter: “What would you be if you could be anything?” I think that was the first time I’d ever been asked that question, and my answer was instant: “I would be a writer.” I remember that day clearly with my kids, because for the first time I understood I had always known what I wanted to be. I had never given that answer before, because I knew it would be dismissed and the question rephrased to: “What do you want to be that will earn you money and pay the bills?”

And that is a valid question, too.

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I’m all for pursuing dreams, but bills do have to be paid and children do have to be fed. However, what I discovered that day with my kids is that I had only been paying the bills and had dismissed my dream. So, in my late forties and with the unwavering support of my husband, I dared to pursue my dream of writing. I have self-published four books to date and am currently working on my fifth. I write the kind of stories I want to read; a nod to one of my favorite quotes, by the way. The process has been difficult and rewarding, all at once. I have connected with some amazing people during my journey, my second act. Writers and fans, some, who have even turned into friends. Lucky me.

No matter how my second act turns out, I am grateful for the insightful question my kids asked me that day. The question that shifted my focus, reopened my eyes, and pushed me to wander down a new path. Pushed me to do more than just pay the bills.

We all have obligations that must be met. But once you’ve met them, live your dream. Don’t get stuck in the rut of just paying the bills when you grow up. My kids taught me that. And in return, I hope I’ve shown them how to do both.

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Blurb

Shayna Chastain’s marriage crashed and burned. She walked away, bruised, but not broken, without so much as a glance over her shoulder at her philandering husband. Oh, his betrayal stung, but Shayna has experienced loss before. She knows it comes for you when you least expect it.

Now feeling a bit past her prime and wanting a new direction in life, Shayna reawakens the woman she remembers being before marrying Frank Chastain. She wants a different life from the one she’s been living. However, she doesn’t have much support from her family and friends who think she’s made a regrettable decision.

Frank Chastain, Mt. Pleasant’s steely real estate mogul, begrudgingly signed the dissolution papers Shayna forced on him. He never wanted to divorce the love of his life. Always believed they could work it out.

She’ll be back.

He’s sure of it.

Now more than ever, he needs that to be true. Events have conspired in his life that could blow open the secret he’s been hiding. He needs Shayna to help him seal it shut, but it may already be too late.

Sean Parker owns an Italian restaurant that has become Shayna’s oasis, giving her respite from the swirling storm around her. Their attraction is instant, but the fallout will last a lifetime. Sean’s smooth, handsome exterior hides an unsavory past that he walked away from years ago and has no intention of revisiting, or discussing.

If it’s really in the past, is it even anyone’s business? Sean sees no point in being an open book. What matters is right now. And right now, there’s no way in hell he’s going to lose the only woman he’s ever loved. The only woman he can’t live without.

But life doesn’t always let us keep our secrets. And these secrets are about to explode to the surface with far-reaching, deadly consequences.

How well do you know the people you love?

Even the one’s you’ve known most of your life…

**Mature themes and sexual content for 18+**

Where to find Robyn…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Amazon

Joanne here!

Robyn, thank you for reminding us to ask the “right” questions. And congratulations on your literary achievements!

My Life Across the Tasman Sea

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Elizabeth Preston talking about her life-changing journey across the Tasman Sea.

Here’s Elizabeth!

I grew up in New Zealand, the child of British immigrant parents. From the age of fifteen, I began dreaming about writing a book. The few manuscripts I attempted died in my bottom drawer – thank goodness.

Growing Up - North Island of New Zealand

Growing Up – North Island of New Zealand

I began my working life in an advertising agency, buying time slots for ads on television. But the commercial business world really wasn’t for me, so after a few years I threw that in. From there I went to Teachers College and trained to become a kindergarten teacher.

I raised my young sons, taught on and off and attempted to write children’s books at night.

Elizabeth & Her Sons - South Island of New Zealand

Elizabeth & Her Sons – South Island of New Zealand

Then, out of the blue, my husband got offered a job in Sydney. They gave us three weeks to up-sticks and relocate the whole family to Australia. The move changed the direction of my life.

I was in a new country, a country I instantly loved, and best of all, I now had the time I needed to pursue my passion. I enrolled in a university course in creative writing and wrote when I could.

A few years ago, we visited far north tropical Queensland, and there, in a museum, we watched a film clip about triumphant British settlers in the 1880s. It was very much a telly-ho style thing that showed the brave settlers hacking their way through the rainforest, battling snakes and malaria, and hostile Aborigines. All I could think about were the poor Aboriginal folk. Bingo – my main character (half native, half white Hunter) came to life.

I wrote his story into a novella, published on July 9. My advice for anyone wanting a second act is simple – do it now.

This is my favourite quote: Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to.

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Blurb

In 1889, the Northern Australian Rainforests are cruel and prejudiced places to live.

Hunter, born from an English mother and a native Australian father, does not fit well with either group. He is an outcast. The new English settlers fear and demonise him because he is dark skinned, unpredictable and frighteningly strong.

Long ago, Hunter survived his mother’s murder. An Aboriginal witch doctor found the dying boy and used tribal magic to save his life. Hunter grew fearfully strong, but this gift of ferocity and strength came at a cost.

Now, as an adult, he wanders the rainforest at night venting his anger and frustrations. He is not safe to be around.

But wayward Alice thinks otherwise.

Where to find Elizabeth…

elizabethprestonBlog

Amazon

Soul Mate Publishing







Joanne here!

Thank you for sharing your journey and lovely pictures. BTW…The storyline for The Outcasts sounds intriguing. Best of luck with sales.

Proud (when I’m not freaking out about it) “Writer”

I am happy to spotlight Soul Mate author Crystal Firsdon. Enjoy her unique take on writer vs “writer” and learn more about her recent release, Almost Wrecked.

Here’s Crystal!

crystalfWith the publication of my debut novel, Almost Wrecked, I can finally call myself a “Writer”. Not a Writer, a “Writer”.

What’s the difference, you ask?

A Writer is someone who meant to become a Writer. These people probably knew early on that writing would always be a part of their life. Poetry, non-fiction, literary fiction, fan-fiction, smut, whatever. They’ve always loved to write, kept at it, honed their craft, and it shows. Most are not fortunate to be able to quit their day jobs, but writing is always their other career. Not much gets in the way of these people writing.

A “Writer” is someone who tripped over something—probably their own feet as they absently spun stories in their head—and fell face first into their keyboard. Their noses plunked out letters onto the screen, and whaddayaknow . . . sentences appeared. They decided to run with it. They’d get stuck sometimes, and bang their heads on their keyboards, wondering why they were torturing themselves. Lucky for them, their foreheads were just as talented as their noses; more sentences appeared for them to run with. Time passes, they open their laptops one day, and type the final words of an entire novel.

“Writers” aren’t untalented, we’re just less self-assured in our work than Writers. We let our lower confidence, and lots of other stuff, get in the way of finishing the sequel or whatever story we started next. Many of us are formally educated, though not in the writing craft, and have or had professional careers. We hope to turn into Writers one day, but for now are content to jump up and down squealing/ hyperventilating at the thought that we have our work out in the world.

I’d love to take a poll and see what there’s more of—Writers or “Writers”. If you write for the purpose of others reading your work, let us know in the comments section which type of writer you are!

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Blurb

1 creep. 2 bodyguards. 3 men who change Molly’s life forever.

Guitar player Molly Davis is taunted with disturbing gifts by some creep she hopes like heck is a harmless, misguided fan. The owner of the bar where her band plays isn’t taking any chances, however, and hires Gabe Cooper and Caleb “Ram” Ramsey to stand guard over Molly and the rest of the band.

Cooper is all business and doesn’t mess with Molly’s emotions. She can handle that. Ram is a different story. He’s gorgeous, has a good heart, and is sometimes infuriating. He doesn’t take Molly’s crap, giving him the potential to be the first man to shove his way through her stubbornness and into her life.

But a violent attack proves the creep isn’t going away. And that almost wrecks everything.

Bio

Crystal Firsdon is a former high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned part time substitute teacher and school volunteer. As often as possible she gathers the stories spinning continual loops in her head and twists and turns them every which way, eventually typing them into Times New Roman 12 point font.

Of course Crystal loves to read, but any book she picks up must have romance! A long and (usually) steady background in physical fitness means she will include exercise in all her heroines’ lives, though she admittedly finds it difficult to stay in shape while sitting behind a keyboard as often as she does. Crystal lives in Michigan with her husband and children.

Where to find Crystal…

Website | Amazon

The Second Act

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Karin Shah describing her journey from the Paddy Hill Library to publication.

Here’s Karin!

karinchurchThe Second Act. In a play it’s when we finally know all the characters, understand the plot, and complications ensue, i.e. “the fun part.”

In life, it’s when you take a large detour, but detours can also be fun. When I started to think about my second act, I realized, I’ve had any number of detours, but the largest was when I quit my job as a school librarian and jumped into writing.

I had read my whole life, but at age eleven when I’d read everything that appealed to me in the children’s section at the Paddy Hill library (a former church having a second act, that is now, sadly, closed) I discovered Harlequin Presents. From that moment on, I was hooked on Romance, but I had no real thought of writing as a career.

I went to college intending to become a zoo keeper, but the siren song of books had me changing my major to English as a Writing Art. Despite the switch, I didn’t believe writing was something I could do as a career.

I went to grad school to become a school librarian. I loved the kids and the books, but writing had begun to call to me. My husband saw my discontent and suggested I give writing a chance.

(Here is where you might expect a story of sudden triumph, but while there was eventually triumph, it was far from sudden.)

It took me about ten years to get “the email” from Samhain that they wanted to publish my novel, STARJACKED. Almost seven years, two kids and four dogs later, I have four published novels out. My latest ENTITY MINE (THE CHIMERA CHRONICLES 2) is a cross between Ghost and a heist movie.

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Blurb

Never fall in love with a man in a photo. Especially, if he’s dead…

Balanced on the knife-edge edge of going feral, chimera Ethan Wade has no idea what he is. All the former Navy SEAL turned maritime treasure hunter knows is his explosive temper has destroyed his life, driving him to an isolated rental house in Western, NY to lick his wounds. When a molotov cocktail of rage and alcohol triggers an uncontrolled shift, he is caught between shapes.

Disembodied, he can only come to one conclusion, he’s died and become a ghost.

Blowing the whistle lost lawyer Devon Daughtry her boyfriend, (not too much of a loss), her job, (a bit worse) and with the rents in Manhattan, a primo apartment (the straw that broke the camel’s back).

Now she’s run home to Cassadaga determined to re-build her life by hanging out her shingle as a psychic medium.

When she discovers a photograph of Ethan while moving in, she’s crushed to discover the man whose lonely eyes strike a chord deep within her soul is missing and presumed dead. Soon, she begins having passionate dreams about him. Dreams that Ethan shares.

But Ethan isn’t the only being in the house, a demonic presence has followed her home and it has diabolical plans for both of them.

Where to find Karin…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Karin, thank you for the delightful post! I am impressed by your perseverance and final triumph. Best of luck with Entity Mine.

Chatting about Boomer Lit

9188269_sIn my late forties, I realized that I no longer enjoyed reading novels with 20something and 30something protagonists. It felt like poking into the heads and hearts of young women who could easily be former students. So, I started searching for novels featuring an older crowd and discovered several late-blooming authors who had launched successful second acts. I longed to pen my own novel, but family and career obligations prevented me from launching a writing practice.

When I retired six years ago, I was ready to write. At first, I focused on the non-fiction market and wrote book reviews and articles about careers, education, money management, personal growth and development, and wellness. While I was pleased with the response from newspapers, magazines, and online publications, I felt a growing restlessness.

It was time to pen the novel.

Continue reading on Mahrie Reid’s blog.

Serving Without Boundaries

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Dr. Hina Fatima sharing her story of a fulfilling life of service.

Here’s Fatima!

As a young girl growing up in a metropolitan city of Pakistan, my parents always inculcated into me that I have to become a doctor when I grow up. Ah! A doctor! A very honorable profession that is not only internally satisfying but provides selfless service to the people. A rigorous course of education of seven years followed by an equally tenacious house job of one year, the sleepless nights at the civil hospital general wards and the consistent emergency calls at the OR…life as a medical student was a test of perseverance and determination.

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When I graduated as an MD, the triumph my parents felt, could be seen on their faces. As I ventured into the clinical field, I realized this was it! My life serving people, be it day or night, sunshine or rain, in sickness and in health!

And then, I got married! :)

Not necessarily a bad thing but marriage brought with it change, responsibility and inclusion of other people's say in my life. As tradition is, my marriage was an arranged one, to a complete stranger, a US citizen. And I landed in this foreign country of United States with dreams bigger than I had ever dreamt. Marriage is a life long commitment and requires time. Time, that I had to sacrifice in order for my marriage to survive. My loving husband, a full time architect in US Navy, and I, decided we wanted to live our lives to the fullest, without the daily qualms and quarrels.

My husband, my children, my house needed my time. Yes, as a doctor I can make thousands of dollars, but I can't spend the quality time I want to spend with my family, raising kids the way I want and teaching them values that I was taught. But that didn’t mean I had to quit doing what I love to do most.

I met this wonderful lady, Dr. Marie Banuelos who introduced me to Kiwanis. Kiwanis is an international organization of volunteers dedicated to serving humanity, changing lives, one person at a time. She had created Cyber Kiwanis, an e-club, with the vision that anyone and everyone who wanted to be a part of a service organization, but didn't have time to attend the meetings, could at least be part of an online club and communicate electronically. All they have to do is commit a certain number of hours of community service, in their own communities, wherever they are located and be a part of a group who share similar interests.

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Yes, the interests are similar, but the cause may be different. For example, a person wants to help the homeless in his community, the other wants to mentor school children in his neighborhood, and the third finds satisfaction in helping people with special needs. So, we all chip in to support each other in our separate causes and yet be a part of a community who has a passion to serve.

I found this club to be very interesting and convenient. With members ranging from age 18 to age 60, and distributed amongst many States, I can volunteer as many number of hours as I can and get credit for it as a Kiwanian! What else would I want more. I started blogging for the club to to speak out, to educate and to motivate people to come out and serve humanity, in whatever small way they can, without expecting anything in return. We live in a monetary world wanting more and more at every step in life. We don't realize there are people in the world who don't even get to eat one full meal. We want to save more and more not realizing there are people who are just trying to survive.

I am not a rich philanthropist. Just a regular house-wife with two kids living on a single income of my husband, who doesn't make a lot. But we are content, still trying to give rather than save, because we are better off than many. My children have the opportunity to get the best education, compared to so many who never even see the face of a school. I believe, we should all be thankful to God for whatever we have and spread love and happiness around us and give as much as we can to those who are less privileged.

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The club's community service projects include fighting childhood obesity, Diabetes awareness, supporting Special Olympics, Children's Hospital, Relay for Life, Kiwanis Family House in Sacramento and providing scholarships to three high school key club graduates. Other than that, on individual levels, volunteer members do what ever community service they can do in their own communities. We have members reading to children, mentoring senior citizens, heading concession stands at different rallies and parades, fund raising for the club itself and other organizations. My personal interest is in the United Cerebral Palsy of Central California and Zindagi Trust, which is an international organization based in my home country Pakistan. It is educating poor children free of cost. I advocate for Zindagi Trust and blog for Cyber Kiwanis at the same time. With a three and one year old, who keep my hands full, this is the maximum I can do at the moment, hoping to be able to do more with time.

To find out how you can help people around you by your words, small acts of kindness, spending some time with them, donating some of your household items, clothes, jewelry etc…

Links

Visit our website http://www.cyberkiwanis.bravehost.com

Subscribe to our blog http://www.cvckiwanis.bravejournal.com

Email me at hina.fatima.82@facebook.com

LIKE our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/cyberkiwanis

Donate at http://www.cvkfoundation.com/news

Sponsor Zindagi Trust students at http://www.zindagitrust.org/donate.php

Joanne here!

Fatima, thank you for inspiring and motivating us with your extraordinary journey. You have given us many ideas on how to serve in our communities.

A Dream Achieved

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Samanthya Wyatt sharing her writing journey and recent releases.

Here’s Samanthya!

Life is an interesting journey. We never know what is in store for us. As a child I had many desires, be a singer, be a movie star, but the one thing that seemed to come natural was write. I wrote poems, short stories, and then tucked them away. I always signed them unknown author. I guess the fear of rejection was in me even then. One day I showed them to my sister. When I told her I’d written them, she would not believe me. I see now my writing was good enough for her to assume someone else wrote it. But at the time, I was intimidated and never exposed myself to that kind of heart ache again.

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When I graduated, my life changed. I married a military man, we traveled the United Stated and abroad. Once I found historical romance novels, I couldn’t put a book down. I fell in love with the characters and needed to know their happy ending.

My husband loves the mountains so we settled in the Shenandoah Valley and I continued my accounting career. Having a full time job and taking care of a family, my outlet was reading a good romance novel. About fifteen years ago, I wrote to Catherine Coulter and was amazed that she wrote back. She was very encouraging and told me to join RWA. She said to write everyday even if it was only one sentence.

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I started writing again. I wrote a story and once again life took over, so I put it on a shelf. A few years ago I decided I wanted to pursue writing seriously. I entered a lot of contests, workshops, and made some good friends via e-mails. I pulled my story back out and finished my historical, The Right One, the first of a trilogy, “One and Only Series”.

I am a member of various chapter groups including Hearts Through History, RWA contemporary, Savvy Authors, all of which contributed to the author I am today. Although my main love is historical, I completed a contemporary for fun. A pitch opportunity with Savvy Authors resulted in both books being published by Soul Mate Publishing.

It’s difficult to find time to write when you have a full-time job. But just a little, a few sentences, a paragraph, will turn into a page, a chapter. Every moment I can slip away into fantasy, I go for it. My dream paid off. I will retire soon and look forward to hours of writing.

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I get a lot of joy from creating new characters and bringing them together in a romantic tale. It took years of putting words on paper, joining RWA, joining other chapters, entering contests, submissions, rejections. Keeping my spirit and turning criticism into drive.

If you have the desire to write, I urge you to follow your dream. No# 1. Join RWA. From there you learn to do a number of things. You can join chapter groups, critique groups, you’ll find friends and receive a lot of help. Take every workshop offered—GMC, POV, character interviews, etc. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Enter contests and keep your mind open. Take criticism as constructive. Make your writing better. Don’t expect success overnight. It is a long, hard process. If you are determined, keep trying. Don’t give up.

I enjoy penning a story with strong characters, a bit of humor, and active scenes. I invite you to lay the worries of the world off your shoulders and get lost in the pages of a romance, where you embark on a journey with the hero and heroine, become involved in a dream, plunge into a world of fantasy, live an adventure your heart can share.

Samanthya’s Books

He abducts the wrong woman . . . she proves she is the right one.

TheRightOne_SamanthaWyatt 380 (2)The setting is 1825 England, Regency Period

Morgan Bartholomew Langston, Earl of Whetherford, has finally decided to accept his fate. Tired of dangerous assignments and putting his neck on the line, he has returned to his ancestral home to accept the title of his birthright and produce the required heir. But, when he arrives, he finds his home has been invaded and a female has taken off with his mother’s jewels. Morgan decides the traitorous jade will not get away, so he sets into motion a plan to bring her back. When he abducts the wrong woman, his reaction to her brings him dangerously close to breaking his vow of forbidden emotions.

Katherine Elizabeth Radbourn is a strong, independent woman, and at the age of twenty three is still unwed. In a desperate attempt to find her brother, she is abducted which leads her on a journey to love and mistaken identity. Once she meets her captor, fear and indignation dissipates to an overwhelming awareness. Even though he tells her she is the wrong one, Kat realizes she has finally met a man that—not only she is attracted to—but has awakened her woman’s body. Does he really care for her or does he secretly yearn for the woman she is supposed to be? Uncertainty makes her risk the very man she has given her soul.

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A determined man, a headstrong woman, and a battle of wills.

somethingmoreThe setting is New York, see the Brooklyn Bridge.

Matthew longs for a woman to share his life, not his bank account. He owns a prestigious company that he rules with an iron fist. On his way to an important meeting, a light flirtation turns into more than he expects. He meets a woman with more confidence and strength than most men. Long legs get his attention, but Carrie attracts his interest. The alluring beauty does not need his money, and makes it clear she does not need him. He accepts the unspoken challenge.

Carrie trusts no man. An executive partner, she possesses a confidence that makes her assertive and her aggressiveness toward the male gender is somewhat intimidating. Until a pair of mischievous eyes melts her defenses, and has her second guessing her convictions. The day he shoved her into that cab he must have chiseled a chink in her armor. Matthew charges into her well organized life, cracks the stone wall she’s built and instills an emotion she swore never to allow.

Infatuation and excitement spark a journey of passion and forbidden emotion where two people must overcome their earlier convictions to find an everlasting love.

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Where to find Samanthya…

Website | Amazon | Soul Mate Publishing

Joanne here!

Samanthya, Thank you for an inspiring and motivating post. Best of luck with The Right One and Something More.

My Journey Through Babies, Blackboards, and Books

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Monica Knightley sharing a three-act play, complete with prologue.

Here’s Monica!

Monicas birthday 2013 018 - Version 4 (2)Had you asked twelve-year-old Monica what she wanted to be when she grew up you would likely have heard, “a teacher, a writer, and a mom.” Depending on the day, you may have also heard, “an anthropologist, a paleontologist, and a person who teaches chimpanzees to speak with sign language.” Actually, I was pretty high on the chimpanzee sign language option. But even then, I knew in my heart of hearts, that what I wanted more than anything else was to be a mother, a teacher, and a writer.

While I know this is a SECOND act series, my story must be told in three acts. And a prologue.

The prologue is that twelve-year-old Monica. That was the year I spent hours writing long gothic romances on that cheap newsprint style paper the schools used in those days. I even would check out the Writer’s Market from the library and look up all the journals and magazines that published short stories. Some would pay as much as five cents a word! Of course, I never sent anything out. But a passion had been born.

Fast-forward seven years, and I was a young bride, beginning my first act. Married at nineteen, and the mother of two by twenty-four, I was blissfully happy as a stay-at-home mom who played with my sons, baked bread, taught my sons to read, and dreamt of the day I would return to school and finish my Elementary Education degree. Oh, and write the Great American Novel. When the youngest entered school, I did too, returning to college to earn that degree. While juggling the responsibilities of a mom, I managed to graduate at the top of my class—Maxima Cum Laude. I was now ready for my second act.

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That second act lasted nearly two decades, as I taught kindergarten and second grade. Teaching is one of the most fulfilling professions, and also one of the most exhausting. But I loved it. When I started teaching my plan had been to write during the summers. Ha. Ha. First, a teacher’s summer isn’t three months long, it is actually about six weeks. Just enough time to rest up a little for the next year, and spend some time with family. I never seemed to find the time for that writing—until about two years before I ended my second act.

One morning, three years ago, I woke up and realized I wasn’t getting any younger, and yet there was one lifelong goal I had not attained. For years an idea for a novel had been percolating in my mind, but I’d done nothing to make it a reality. With the dawning realization that publication is a slow road, (and, I really wasn’t getting any younger!) I decided it was time to get moving, despite the long hours I was still spending as a teacher. However, this novel required a lot of research, as it was to be set during the American Civil War. But I wanted to practice the craft of writing! So while doing research, I started working on a fun practice novel, one about a vampire with a Jane Austen twist, set in England. All of my favorite things! That practice novel, The Vampire’s Passion, was published by Soul Mate Publishing on April 9th of this year.

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I am now fully in my third act, and enjoying every minute of it. A year ago this month, I ended my full time teaching career—I occasionally substitute teach. I just became a grandmother, and I have too many Works In Progress in my writing folder. Among them, a prequel to The Vampire’s Passion is being polished, and a Young Adult novel is almost ready for submission.

As we go through the various acts of our lives, I firmly believe we can never give into fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. We must simply go out there and give it our best try. These words from J. K. Rowling to the 2008 Harvard graduating class always inspire me: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

I’m living the life I dreamed of. Today, I can look into twelve-year-old Monica’s eyes, and tell her, “Yes, you will be a mom, a teacher, and a writer.”

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Blurb

The enigmatic, ethereally handsome, aristocratic Gabriel Augustine, professor of Nineteenth Century English Literature at St. Giles College in Oxford, England, is a man with many secrets. And it is not his vampiric nature that is his most deeply held secret. Though few know he is vampire, not human, none know the horror that has haunted him throughout his long existence. He has spent centuries attempting to atone for his greatest sin.

Claire Seymour needs to forget her past. She is ready to embark on any journey that will move her away from the pain that has been her constant companion since discovering her fiancé with her best friend. Four weeks at the University of Oxford in a class on her favorite author, Jane Austen, seems like a good place to start.

Neither is prepared for the other.

Where to find Monica

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Joanne here!

Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. I’m certain many readers will be uplifted by this post and consider moving their “someday” dreams to the front burner. BTW…The Vampire’s Passion sounds delicious!

Keep Stumbling On

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“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”(Author Unknown)

When I came across this quotation on my Pinterest travels, I immediately pinned it and within minutes, others were repining and liking it. I also shared this message with my friends, many of whom tend to fixate on each snafu in their lives, often ignoring the bigger picture.

I recall one friend who spent almost an hour listing everything that had gone wrong at a recent event she had chaired. When I read the glowing write-up in the paper, I couldn’t believe it was the same event. No mention was made of the last-minute menu changes or frantic scramble to replace the emcee who had come down with the flu. Without realizing it, my friend just kept stumbling on and everything turned out for the best. Much like what happened with many well-known inventions that were accidents stumbled upon by sloppy, distracted, and temperamental professionals.

Fried to a Crisp

As head chef at Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs (1853), George Crum catered to a wealthy clientele. One day, a customer complained about his potatoes and sent them back to the kitchen several times, suggesting they be cut thinner and fried longer. Crum lost his temper and decided to get back at the customer. He cut the potatoes extra thin, fried them until they were crisps, and salted them. To everyone’s surprise, the customer asked for a second helping. The news spread quickly about these Saratoga chips which later become known as potato chips.

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All Covered in Goo

In 1879, chemist Constantin Fahlberg was experimenting with new uses for coal tar. He became so engrossed in his research that he forgot about his supper. Hungry and tired, he rushed out of the lab, forgetting to wash his hands. While eating, he noticed that his bread tasted unusually sweet. When he wiped his mustache with a napkin, he found the napkin tasted sweet as well. Curious, he stuck his thumb in his mouth and tasted more of the sweetness. He returned to the laboratory where he tasted every beaker and dish until he found the one that contained saccharin.

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Unwashed Dishes

In his haste to leave for a long overdue vacation, Alexander Fleming did not bother washing any of the dirty petri dishes stacked up at his workstation. When he returned from his holiday, he discovered that most had been contaminated. While dumping the dishes in a large vat of Lysol, one dish caught his eye. The dish was practically all covered in colonies of bacteria, except for one area where a blob of mold was growing. After close examination, he saw that the mold had blocked the bacteria from growing. He concluded that this mold—later called penicillin—could be used to kill a wide range of bacteria.

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